Fainting in Public
1 5’9″ woman
1 night of drinking
1 20 minute walk in 80 degree morning sun
1 skipped breakfast
1 wobbly metro car train full of passengers
Stir and shake ingredients in the stomach of the woman. Watch as she blacks out. Serve with slices of shock and confusion.
Yesterday I had the unfortunate incident of fainting in public, scaring myself and a bunch of strangers in the process.
I have fainted before, once in high school. My AP Physics class was doing a group project designing a roller coaster, and for my group the night before the project was due, our best tool was a large serrated knife. My friend cut the tip of her finger, blood gushed, and I fainted to the carpeted floor. No harm, but from then on I knew I could never be in the medical profession.
After walking 10 blocks in the sun, I got on at 7th Street Metro Station, having just chugged a “Revive” Vitamin Water. There were no discernible open seats.
“That’s okay, I feel like I need to stand. I need the exercise.”
As I’m taking a look around at the cross section of passengers, including a ponytailed man sitting on the floor next to his bicycle, the movement of the train seems to stir up the unhappy contents of my stomach.
“Okay, do I need to barf?” “Yes, maybe. But there’s no way I can do it here.”
I was listening to a song by Niki & the Dove, holding onto the vertical bar, looking around in a daze at the young guy nodding off, and the elderly man chuckling to himself, and the next thing I know I’m laying in the fetal position on the floor of the subway car.
I don’t remember falling at all. Apparently I fell face forward and hit my left temple while the car was moving. I wonder what kind of thunk I made. I came to and the ponytailed man was at my side, seeing if I was okay. He helped me up, and people around me had backed away and assumed expressions of shock. He guided me to the handicapped seat by the door.
My hot sweat had broken into a cold sweat. Apparently my body decided it would rather go limp than vomit in public. Self-protection? I don’t know. Two women across from me handed me their newspaper to fan myself. All that kept running through my head was “What? Why? How did..?” The guy who had been nodding off called the driver on the intercom to stop the train, that I had had a seizure. (Which I didn’t.) And about 20 seconds later the morning commute all came to a stop. I got up to get out on the platform, and the driver had walked back, asking if I needed medical attention. I wasn’t bleeding, vision wasn’t blurry, so no.
At the Urgent Care clinic in Pasadena, I passed the neurological test, and since I did not show any of the symptoms of a major head injury, i.e. vomiting, blurred vision, or head swelling, it was deemed that it was just a bump on the head. (You know, since I wasn’t thrown from a speeding car or hit in the head with a bat.) It also didn’t hurt that this was my first ‘cute doctor’ experience that you always see in Grey’s Anatomy and ER. His eyes were piercing, and I didn’t see a ring. It was funny, too. When I told him I had been drinking in Downtown LA, he asked if I had gone to 7-Grand, “that good whiskey bar.”
I’m seriously considering purchasing a fainting couch or chaise lounge. It’s not just for Betty Draper or Victorian women in corsets, but for the modern woman, faint-at-heart for just a moment. The Doyles do hail from the South, after all. The couch will be an amazing addition to my dream house, along with all the Art Deco furniture and exotic bird aviary.
I’m lucky I’ve got a thick skull, but it certainly scared the shit out of me. It was some amazing combination of dehydration, nausea, hormones, and low blood sugar that made me fall. My Mom said “Well once you were on the floor you were pretty relaxed. That’d be good for acting!”
When I was at BU and we were working on Grotowski’s Exercices Corporels, it was the work that scared me the most. These full-body exercises include rolls, headstands, back bends, and tiger leaps, in which you leap and roll over another person crouched on the floor. In the context of rehearsal and devised work, it often literally takes the form of falling, progressing from kneeling to standing. Every time I return to that work I’m reminded of how scared I am to fall, the enduring question being “What is my relationship to the floor?” Well, I fell on accident. Now I’m going to fall on purpose, fuck it.
Every time I take the metro or bus in Los Angeles, I like to say “I’m going to have an urban adventure,” and this sure falls into that category.